Human- Biases- In- Organisations.

20 10 2017

I find that when you open the door toward openness and transparency, a lot of people will follow you through.   Kirsten Gillibrand

“The more people can see what is happening – the good, the bad, the ugly – the more effective they are at deciding the appropriate ways of handling things”. (Ray Dalio)

Let’s take a look at one of many definitions of the meaning of bias; “A particular tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned: illegal bias against older job applicants; the magazines bias toward art rather than photography; our strong bias in favour of the idea”.

Bridgewater Associates founded by Ray Dalio in 1975, is the largest hedge fund in the world. Dalio’s philosophy consists of radical transparency into the company.

Dalio, got reactions from three of his top confidants that he was hurting the company by being too honest. His action to resolve this problem was to meet employees individually and find a solution through discussions on how to treat one another. His goal was to create a culture of sharing ideas without creating lasting conflict, as well as engaging employees in thoughtful disagreements.  From this article in Harvard Business Review; “Radical Transparency Can Reduce Bias – but Only If It’s Done Right, Francesca Gino is a professor at Harvard Business School, she gives us some examples through Dalio’s ideas and believes in openness and transparency.

Francesca refers to Dalio where he says; “I think the greatest tragedy of mankind is that people have ideas and opinions in their heads but don’t have a process for properly examining these ideas to find out what’s true. That creates a world of distortions. That’s relevant to what we do, and I think it’s relevant to all decision making. So when I say I believe in radical truth and radical transparency, all I mean is we take things that ordinarily people would hide and we put them on the the table, particularly mistakes, problems, and weaknesses. We put those on the table, and we look at them together. We don’t hide them.”

Here another interesting article; Outsmart Your Own Biases (Jack B. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman, and John W. Payne, Harvard Business Review). The authors gives us theirs view on biases and it’s challenges. “We are all susceptible to such biases, especially when we’re fatigued, stressed, or multitasking. Just think of a CEO who’s negotiating a merger while also under pressure from lawyers to decide on a plant closing from colleagues to manage layoffs. In situations like this, we’re mentally, emotionally, and physically spent. We cope by relying even more heavily on intuitive, system 1 judgements and less on careful reasoning. Decision making becomes faster and simpler, but quality often suffers”.

Let us take a closer look at the meaning of system 1 and system 2 thinking:

System 1 thinking; are associated with automatic judgements which stem from associations stored in our memories, you can choose to work logically with the information available. The authors makes us aware of the importance of system 1 thinking in critical situations and for surviving- “It’s what makes you swerve to avoid a car accident”. Authors; “But as psychologist Daniel Kahneman has shown, it’s also a common source of bias that can result in poor decision making, because our intuitions frequently lead us astray”.

System 2 thinking; “essentially, deliberate reasoning gone awry. Here the authors are talking about cognitive limitations, and an example of limitations can be laziness, and people may focus on the wrong things as well as failing to seek out relevant information”.

In Francesca’s article where she say that scientific evidence confirms Dalio’s belief ; “as human beings, we tend to evaluate information in a biased manner. For instance, we often fall prey to what psychologists and decision researchers call-confirmation bias: “the tendency to focus on evidence that confirms our beliefs and assumptions rather than looking for data that contradicts it”.

Francesca, says that such biases weakens our judgements as well as decisions.

When confronted with our biases, we have difficulties to listen to peoples feedback and learning from it, especially when it’s inconsistent with the way we view ourselves at work. Francesca; “We tend to strengthen bonds only with people who see our positive qualities. Why ? When others provide evidence that is inconsistent with how we view ourselves or our ideas, we find that information threatening. Our natural reaction is to remove the threat-which can mean dislocating from the source of the information”.

In the other article the authors talk about risk taking and says; “Because most of us tend to be highly overconfident in our estimates, it’s important to ‘nudge’ ourselves to allow for risk and uncertainty”.

Further on Jack. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman, and John W. Payne suggests three methods that are especially useful; Make three estimates, use premortems and take on outside view:

The three methods in short.

The problem; Cognitive biases muddy our decision making. We rely too heavily on intuitive, automatic judgements, and even when we try to use reason, our logic is often lazy or flawed”.

The causes; “Instead of explaining risks and uncertainties, we seek closure-it’s much easier. This narrows our thinking about what could happen in the future, what our goals are, and how we might achieve them”.

The solution; “By knowing which biases tend to trip us up and using certain tricks and tools to outsmart them, we can broaden our thinking and make better choices”.

These three methods are useful and keeps you going in the right direction if wisely used.

Francesca says; “Through radical transparency, Dalio has encouraged a culture where people know it’s important to challenge one another’s views, regardless of rank, and do so regularly”. Here the author tells us that this approach will work if people discuss their ideas openly, even if you have to tell someone about their mistakes. Francesca; ” When transparency unveils our universal human biases, we are more likely to benefit as individuals. Our organisations will benefit as well”.

Both of these interesting articles illustrates how to handle biases as well as giving great advice on how to handle challenging  situations.

“Even the smartest people exhibit biases in their judgements and choices. It’s foolhardy to think we can overcome them through sheer will. But we can anticipate and outsmart them by nudging ourselves in the right direction when it’s time to make a call”. (Jack B. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman and John P. Payne)

Honest communication is built on truth and integrity and upon respect of the one for the other     Benjamin E. Mays

Source; Harvard Business Review

Author, Inger Lise E Greger/Master of Science in Change Management

 

 





Leadership And The Act Of Influencing and Inspiring Others.

31 10 2015

Leadership is influence.     ——- John C. Maxwell

Transformative and resilient leaders has according to Brené Brown three things in common; “First, they recognise the central role that relationships and story play in culture and strategy, and they stay curious about their own emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. Second, they understand and stay curious about how emotions, thoughts, and behaviours are connected in the people they lead, and how those factors affect relationships and perception. And, third, they have the ability and willingness to lean in to discomfort and vulnerability”. (Rising strong 2015, Brené Brown)

As a leader you are in a unique position to make people interested in their work. A leader’s role among other things is to make your workers interested and inspired. We influence others most of the time in our life, both in public as well as in the private atmosphere. Some common examples are when we are making a presentation, nodding our heads, sharing our ideas with a colleague or customer or shaking hands.

Terry R Bacon, has written the book; Elements of Influence, where he demystifies all the fundamentals of influence, and gives us the basics we need to know (if we are of interest) to generate more positive outcomes both in the organisations as well as in the private life.

‘Influence is the art of getting others to take your lead – to believe, think in a way you want them to believe, think in a way you want them to think, or do something you want them to do’

Can you become better in influencing other ? Everybody can be better at influencing, however it depends on how you choose to look at the world, and if you are open to alternative ways of seeing the world and accept other peoples meanings and opinions, this should help you on your way. Bacon; “Most people do not naturally excel at influencing, in part because influencing effectively requires a great deal of adaptability, perceptiveness, and insight into other people, and in part because influence has cultural variations, and we learn to influence almost exclusively from within our own cultural lens”.

Experiencing living in many different cultures during childhood, makes us more humble and understandable towards people in other cultures. Bacon; “Influencing effectively requires an adaptive mindset, and influencing effectively across cultures require a global mindset. To some extent, a global mindset is a product of your psychology, your willingness to accept others as they are instead of wishing them to be more like yourself. And it is a product of both self-acceptance and acceptance of others”.

Kraut et al, has some insights about establishing a strong culture; “Culture is intended to do what other aspects of the leading role do for individuals and small groups, encourage the best efforts of people, by aligning their interests with the needs of the organisation. In contrast to decision – making as a form of controlling, culture is decision shaping as a form of leading”. (My blog; Organizational Culture, 2014)

Bacon; “What works in Mexico may not work as well in Malaysia, just as the openness and informality typical in Australia, even in business settings, may not be as acceptable in Germany or the Netherlands (In fact, it could cause suspicion). Influence effectiveness depends in part on the conventions, values, and beliefs prevalent in every culture”.

As a leader, the way you choose to influence other people can make a big difference, both in positive ways as in negative ways. Bacon, tells us that leaders lead by mobilising people. They inspire them to follow, and show them the possibilities as well as motivates them to realise those possibilities. Bacon; “They energise and focus people in ways that fulfil their dreams, give them a sense of purpose, and leave them with a profound sense of accomplishment when the work is done”. Bacon, makes us aware that leaders encourage new ways of looking at situations, and by doing so, they give people the words and the courage to make those new ways their own. Bacon; “The best leaders are teachers, mentors, and role models – and they accomplish the vast majority of their work through influence, not authority”.

James Borg, illustrates skills with good magicians who are masters in loosely called people skills. Why ? They had to persuade their audience. First the audience’s attention, second they would use the ‘right’ wordslisten carefully to any volunteers and make them remember the things they wanted them to remember. The magician would work out the type of person they were dealing with, and observe the body language and get the trust from the audience. This is a great demonstration of people skills in action. (From my blog: The Art of Persuasion)

Ethical influence is without forcing, and authority and the person being influenced is open to the influence and has a choice and right to say yes or no.

Bad and unethical influence happens by people with no scruples, and is destructive. Bacon; “Throughout human history, tyrants, dictators, and thugs have known that people can control others and impose their will – sometimes over millions of people – through force, brutality, intimidation, and murder. In The Prince, Machiavelli said that it is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.

Dark – side influence tactics take away people’s legitimate right to say no, force them to comply with something contrary to their wishes or best interests. mislead them, or make them act when they would otherwise choose not to.

Leonardo Da Vinci astutely observed that the average person looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eat without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odour or fragnance, and talks without thinking. (From my blog; The Art of Persuasion)

Here Da Vinci gives us a wake-up call, and makes us aware of the importance of taking care of each other.

Inspiration is a key-element in leading people, as well as conveying energy and enthusiasm. Bacon; “Dull lethargic speakers leave people unengaged and unconvinced. To light a fire, you need some spark. It’s extraordinary that listening makes such a difference, too. Great and inspirational leaders are good listeners as well as great speakers”. No doubt, effective listening is how masters of inspirational appeals develop their insight into what others value, and knowing what others value enables them to appeal to the right ones.

In recent years, social scientists led by Todd Trash, have demystified the phenomenon of inspiration; “At its core, inspiration is what happens when a person feels stimulated to bring some new idea to life after becoming spontaneously aware of new possibilities”. (Harvard business review; You don’t need charisma to be inspiring, 2015)

Bacon makes us aware that leadership has changed, earlier leadership may have been about commanding and controlling, but not anymore. “Leaders don’t accomplish their goals by directing others to perform tasks, and they don’t inspire engagement and commitment by using the heavy hammer of power. Instead they articulate values and vision, appeal to those values in their communications, model the behaviours they want others to embody, and teach others how to accomplish the goals”.

Leaders need to act as good role models or as a teacher, coach, or counsellor. Bacon; “The skills most closely correlated with effective modelling reinforce the importance of teaching and coaching: Supporting and encouraging others, taking the initiative to show others how to do things, building rapport and trust, speaking conversationally, showing genuine interest in others, logical reasoning, behaving self-confidently, and listening”.

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.   ——Ralph Waldo Emerson

Author; Inger Lise E Greger, MSc Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/








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